Dr Phil: Is My Husband a Cheater or Just a Charmer?
Sarah and Ed have been married for 20 years, but she turned to Dr Phil because she thinks he has been unfaithful throughout their relationship. Though Ed admits that he sends suggestive messages to other women, he claims that all he has ever done is have an emotional affair. Sarah wants a divorce, but has hesitated about following through because the couple has two teenage sons.
Though she has found plenty of clues, Sarah claims that she has never found solid, undeniable proof that her husband has physically cheated. Ed denies almost everything, and even told Dr Phil’s cameras that he has never touched any of the women he has been talking to, and he denies sharing revealing photos of himself to solicit interest.
Dr Phil: Emotional Affair with a Coworker
Sarah’s concerns began in 2003, after she found evidence of email and phone calls between Ed and another woman. Ed explained this away as a coworker, but Sarah didn’t buy his excuses. Ed even admits that he and the coworker once shared a hotel room, though he still denies anything happened while they were in bed together.
Ed’s denials have gone on for so long that Sarah is starting to question her own judgement. According to Dr Phil, she may be obsessed, anxious, and depressed about this situation, but she is definitely right to be suspicious. “You almost need to know that he is doing all these things,” Dr Phil said, in order to move on.
Dr Phil: Evidence of Husband’s Infidelity
Along the way, Sarah has collected a lot of souvenirs that she believes are evidence of her husband’s misbehavior. Ed says that he has explanations or presumptions to clarify what maybe really happened on each of these occasions. “I can’t approach him without proof,” she said. “So there’s proof of something. What is it?”
The couple has been to marriage counseling. Both the counselor and Sarah think that addiction could explain Ed’s behavior, in terms of constantly flirting with others and compulsively seeking out stimulation online. Ed told Dr Phil that he has trouble managing his preoccupations, and has been through inpatient and outpatient therapy.
Dr Phil: Ego States in Relationships
Sarah has not been impressed with Ed’s attitude, which has been to use his potential diagnosis as an excuse for his behavior. Ed thinks his treatment has been successful over the past few years, and he said it has changed the way he views himself, relationships, and emotions. He said he feels bad about his past behavior, but I’m not sure that his wife was convinced.
Though Ed was saying some of the right things, Dr Phil wasn’t sure that his heart was in the right place. Dr Phil compared the couple’s dynamic to Ego States, which represent different stages of development: Parent, Adult, and Child, each with different physical and verbal characteristics.
Dr Phil: Healthy Ego States for a Marriage
Dr Phil said the healthy status of Ego States for a marriage is Adult to Adult, when both parties are treating each other as equals. But in this case, Sarah has taken on more of a Parental role, driving Ed into the position of a Childish response or defense. “You wind up with a parent-child relationship in a romantic situation,” Dr Phil concluded. “That never works.”
Dr Phil also told Sarah that she has all the evidence she needs to reach a conclusion. “Why would I trust somebody who lies to me?” Sarah asked. Dr Phil pointed out that she knows she is being lied to. Sarah said she came to Dr Phil to get reassurance that she wasn’t crazy for suspecting that her husband has been up to something.
Dr Phil: Is This Marriage a Life Sentence?
Though Dr Phil liked the idea of keeping a family together, he got real with this couple. In the event that Sarah can never let this go, would Ed want to stay? “If this is a life sentence, you ought to run,” Dr Phil said to him. However, Ed says he is committed to their marriage. (Meanwhile, Sarah was rolling her eyes and possibly trying not to laugh.)
Dr Phil told Ed that if he wants to stay in this relationship, he needs to get serious. “Drop all of the buzzwords and all of the rehab speak, and look your wife in the eye, and say, ‘What can I do today to make your life better?’” No matter what Ed’s own issues may be, he may have to confront them to move forward.
Dr Phil: Looking for Truth
Then Ed attempted to take Dr Phil on over some conflicting advice. Should he leave or stay and make changes? Sarah said that she does not want to feel like this anymore, and Dr Phil said the couple needs a fresh start, whether that is together or separately. Ultimately, Sarah was glad to have the reassurance that she was not crazy for her suspicions.
Have you ever been #Looking4Truth about infidelity in a relationship? What would it take for you to know or take action if your significant other was stepping out on you? Sound off on social media or share your thoughts about this episode by leaving a comment.